"...the Hemingway-Copland-Steinbeck-Ives America I loved..."

George Saunders in the preface to CivilWarLand

“In retrospect I was lucky—lucky to have my lame, black-and-white, museumish idea of literature, in which it was always 1931, denied me. This sent me in search (in spite of myself) of a prose style that wasn’t full of shit given the life I was leading, a style that felt truly American— that took into account the Hemingway-Copland-Steinbeck-Ives America I loved (red, white, and blue bunting draped above a white-painted porch, a marching band playing in the distance) but also this new America in which I was just becoming a full participant: a place where paucity reduced a person, fear of failure produced neuroses, where everyone became a freak via material obsession, where there were no artifacts of previous cultures, no ancient ruins, just expedience-formed vistas (the old mill was now a Starbucks, and when the Starbucks kids went out for a smoke, they did so leaning against the fence of the pioneer graveyard, the shadow of a tall stone angel slicing across the parking stripes), a style as angular, comic, dorky, and heartfelt as the Rochesterians I saw falling asleep on the bus, or living up near Kodak Park in the shadow of the methylene chloride pipes, or plunking around in their snowy yards wielding roof rakes as I sped by on the canal path in my goggles and spaceman boots.”